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Just the other week, the Biden administration announced that with a stroke of a pen made by the President of the United States, up to $20k of student loan debt per person can be canceled or “forgiven”. What a nice gesture for some people. But for others, this gesture may feel like a slap in the face. How should we think about this issue? Is student loan forgiveness Biblical?

There is no doubt that people are strongly divided. Emotions about student loan “forgiveness” are running high on all sides! In today’s episode we are going to do our best to take the emotions out of this topic and speak to what we know is the truth about this plan, and examine whether or not student loan “forgiveness” is Biblical.

There are three areas that we will be looking at today…

  • Cost speculations for this program.
  • Overview of the student loan “forgiveness” program.  
  • And most importantly, transferable principles from the Word Of God that speak to student loan forgiveness.


Student Loan Forgiveness: Cost Speculations

One economist recently wrote that, “The Biden Administration says the changes would cost $240 billion in the next ten years. The Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget says $440 – 600 billion. A budget model from Wharton says $1 trillion. But even that $1 trillion figure might be way too low” (Monday Morning Outlook).

No matter how you play the numbers, it impacts many people on both sides of the coin.


Program Overview

In order to get a good picture of where we are, it would only be wise to take a few moments and review what we know right now about the current student loan forgiveness program that was recently announced by the president. 

  • Currently, student loans are on their last pause which will end on December 31st of this year.  Come January 1st, repayment will need to begin again.
  • $10k student loans forgiven for those earning less than $125k single or $250k married joint. 
  • $20k forgiveness for those who got Pell Grants (Low income students). 
  • For some, the “forgiveness” may be automatic due to the government already knowing the financial status of you and your student loan. For others, the “forgiveness” will have to be applied for, most likely through some online platform.
  • If a person has undergraduate student loans, they can set up a “payment based on income” where it will cap your payment up to 5% of your current income (this is reduced from 10% of one’s income).
  • Student Loan Forgiveness will not be taxable on the federal level, but there is already talk that on the state level, those that receive this “forgiveness” will have to record it as income and pay taxes and pay the appropriate state taxes.
  • It is important to make known that this new government program is only available to those that have federal student loans.  Those that have private student loans are excluded from any sort of assistance or “forgiveness”.

student loan forgiveness biblical?



Is Student Loan Forgiveness Biblical?

First, is debt forgiveness a Biblical idea?

  • To state the obvious, there were no student loans back in Biblical days. Because of this, in order to answer the question, “is student loan forgiveness biblical?” We need to look at what the Word Of God states about loans, borrowing, and repayment.
  • Deuteronomy 15:1-6:
    • “At the end of every seven years you must cancel debts. 2 This is how it is to be done: Every creditor shall cancel the loan he has made to his fellow Israelite. He shall not require payment from his fellow Israelite or brother, because the LORD’s time for canceling debts has been proclaimed. 3 You may require payment from a foreigner, but you must cancel any debt your brother owes you. 4 However, there should be no poor among you, for in the land the LORD your God is giving you to possess as your inheritance, he will richly bless you, 5 if only you fully obey the LORD your God and are careful to follow all these commands I am giving you today. 6 For the LORD your God will bless you as he has promised, and you will lend to many nations but will borrow from none. You will rule over many nations but none will rule over you.”  (NIV84)
      • This is what some have called a regular remission or forgiveness of debt. The reasoning why this forgiveness of debt was to be granted is for:
        • One’s reliance on THE LORD for His provision.
        • For generosity to those in the same “family”(nationality).
        • And to allow God’s blessings to flow to those who are generous in this way.
  • Psalm 37:21
    • “The wicked borrow and do not repay”
      • It is important to note that this is neither a command, or a proverb…but an observation of David!
      • The implication here is that those that are upright will fulfill their obligation on any/all debt that they incur!  
  • Philemon 1:18
    • “But if he has wronged you in any way or owes you anything, charge that to my account;”
      • In this case, Paul is wanting and willing to take on the debt of Onesimus, for it is to be “charged” to Paul’s account.
      • This is REAL forgiveness of debt!  One person taking the debt of another off of their shoulder, eliminating it from their responsibility, and transferring it to someone else. 


Second, What Biden is doing has echos of the great gospel truth of our sins being forgiven.

  • Clearly we are not stating that Biden and his administration are our financial saviors.  Clearly they are not! But what they are proposing, to some degree, it has some parallels to what we have just seen in the Word of God. The CHOOSING to release someone from debt is VERY Biblical! It is gracious, generous, and seen throughout scripture. It is the RIGHT thing to consider.
  • As we see in the OT, God not only approves of it, but he also BLESSES the one that forgives debt! There are some very good and Biblical parallels between what we see in the Word Of God and what is being offered through the proposed Student Loan Forgiveness Program.


Third, Biden’s “forgiveness” falls far short of the Biblical Gospel.

  • This Student Loan Forgiveness Program is really not, in the full definition of the word, forgiveness. In order to truly understand what this program is, we need to bring in the another word that should be, but is not included in the name of this program. That additional word is “transfer.” There is a huge difference between “forgiveness” and “transfer.”
    • Forgiveness: 
      • to grant pardon for or remission of (an offense, debt, etc.); absolve.
      • to give up all claim on account of; remit (a debt, obligation, etc.).
      • to grant pardon to (a person).
      • to cancel an indebtedness or liability of:
      • to forgive the interest owed on a loan.
    • Transfer:
      • to convey or remove from one place, person, etc., to another:
      • to cause to pass from one person to another…
  • With a good understanding of these two words, let’s now look at exactly what is proposed to take place with the Student Loan Forgiveness Program.
    • If this was truly “student loan forgiveness” then someone, anyone, possibly the President himself since he signed the document, would take upon themselves that debt and would pay the debtor (in this case the government.
    • But, rather than taking on that debt himself as the President, he is essentially TRANSFERRING the payment of the debt of up to 43M people to the entire United States tax base.  Thus, it is forcing tax payers to pay that debt. For our government to just use the word “forgiveness” falls very short. Yes, it is forgiveness for up to 43M people. But, in reality, it truly is TRANSFERRING that bill to the entire tax paying population of the United States.
  • To look at this program though a Biblical view…think about it this way…
    • Can you imagine Jesus saying that all sins are forgiven but that all others in your country must pay for your sin debt on your behalf? We understand that Biden could never pay off or accept $10k of student loans for every borrower. That’s not the point that we’re trying to make. Christianity based on a debt being forgiven – pardoned and wiped clean, like it was never there! NOT TRANSFERRED to someone else that cannot make payment on your behalf!
    •  This is my Savior! We see it in the Word of God that Jesus took our debt, our sin, onto HIMSELF! He didn’t disburse that debt to all people. To say it in a term that we have all heard, ”the buck stopped with Him.” Remember that old song of days ago, “Jesus paid it all!” Done, paid, no record of past transaction and no transfer of payment to someone other than Christ Himself!  HE PAID IT ALL!
    • The fact of the matter is that our sin and debt was transferred to someone else to pay. The only difference was, the person to whom it was transferred was the ONLY one that could pay it in full. In Christianity, our debt was transferred and paid in full, and according to our account, was forgiven.
  • As we started out this section, clearly this proposal of student loan forgiveness falls way short of the Biblical Gospel.

Stewardship Questions about Student Loan Forgiveness

Should a Christian accept loan forgiveness?

  • This is ultimately a matter of Christian Conscience –
    • 2 Tim. 1:3 – I thank God, whom I serve with a clear conscience the way my forefathers did, as I constantly remember you in my prayers night and day.
    • For some, this debt forgiveness is applied once you submit the paperwork to have it forgiven. It’s not necessarily ‘required.’ If your conscience binds you from accepting it, obey your conscience.
    • Because it is offered (for many), you may not be obligated to participate.
    • On the other hand, this could be a great way to feel alleviated and gain a foothold towards financial security.
    • Pray about it. Talk to God about it. Make the decision that won’t violate your conscience.
  • What about “pay to each all that is owed?”  How does this fit in?
    • It would be true to state that officially/legally speaking you ARE responsible for the debt that you incurred.  You agreed to it, you agreed to the terms, and you promised and/or signed to make payment accordingly. However, with this program, the lender is officially ‘releasing’ a portion of your debt, saying that it is no longer owed. So if you can, with a clear conscience, as we spoke about moments earlier, be at peace that $10k-20K is no longer on your account, then sleep well at night.
  • How does “let your yes be yes” fit in when making a “debt” commitment to paying it back someday?
    • This question has some similar connections to the previous one. If we make a commitment, it is our responsibility to honor it. 
    • If the lender, in this case, the US Government, is offering you a release of paying back a certain amount of what is owed, then if your conscience is clear in doing so, fill out the forms and afford this reduction in what you owe.


Stewardship Application

  • We are not wanting to tell you what to do or how to think about this, we just wanted to give you what we know about this program and what we see as some Biblical connections to it. Even in our office here, we have differing views of this Student Loan Forgiveness Program.  Some are all for it and glad to see something finally happen, and others are not happy campers.  However, the score is not settled yet.  There still will be much discussion and legal actions will take place before anything is set in stone, so hang tight, and pray!  
  • Remember, we do not trust in chariots, horses or governments, or debt release!  We trust in the name of the Lord our God!


Next Steps


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